By Bill Bray, Special to ASSIST News Service
CHICAGO, IL (ANS –May 13, 2015) – Student outreach ministries in campus communities are preparing to welcome over 1.16 million international students to the USA this fall. The figure, based on the number of student visas issued, breaks all previous records according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Most of the students will start to arrive in the middle of August with “move-in” day on or about August 22, depending on the campus.
A national coalition of international student ministries will gather here May 28-30 at the Wheaton College to prepare for the new school year in conjunction with the Association of Christians Ministering among Internationals (ACMI). Registration details for the ACMI training conference are available from the new ACMI Executive Director Beau Miller at www.acmi-ism.org/annual-conference/ .
ACMI is the leading training event for community/campus outreach in the USA and meets every year. It sets the pace for locally-based international student outreaches which typically begin in mid-August. The Focus 15 planning group will meet in conference at the Billy Graham Center prior to the start of ACMI starting at 8:30 am with a free continental breakfast of fruit and bagels. A mini “Launch Lab” for those starting new international ministries is scheduled from 1 to 3:45 pm.
The ACMI conference officially begins that evening at 4 PM with workshops and a banquet. After the conference closes on Saturday, the “Focus 15” group will meet on May 31 to June 1 for a full New Mission Launch Lab.
The “Focus15” national tour began last month at Ethnic America Network Summit (EAN) in Atlanta. Focus15 is a united effort to show hospitality and welcome to the 1.1 million overseas students who have flooded the USA this year.
Dave Edwards of Washington-based Dave Edwards Events, Inc., is donating his services to co-ordinate the series of exhibits and special events. It will peak just before Thanksgiving with the Global Day of Prayer for International Students on November 17. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Like most of the others involved, Dave is a faith-missionary who is raising his own support to attend the conference with the help of family and friends. International Student Day and The Global Day of Prayer for International Students will be celebrated at 3500 university and non-degree institutions in the USA and at thousands of others around the world. Immediately following International Student Day in the USA, an annual Thanksgiving “Set-An-Extra-Plate” outreach will help bring hundreds of thousands of international students into the living rooms of Christian “hospitality host” families.
The Focus15 exhibit will travel from ACMI in Chicago to various college campuses, the Urbana15 mission’s conference in St. Louis sponsored by IVCF, and the NRB Christian Media Convention in February, 2016.
Based at the Billy Graham Center, the EAN is an outgrowth of the Lausanne Convention that focuses on helping local churches respond to the spread of ethnic Diasporas in the USA and throughout the world. EAN is a coalition of 70 denominations and organizations helping meet the needs of internationals who are relocating in the USA and around the world. 0SM, founded in 1953, is a Christian organization serving local community and student leaders to provide hospitality and welcome international students to the United States.
It sponsors Focus15 and the Global Day of Prayer for International Students November 17. For information about volunteering to welcome international students or to help sponsor the Focus15 effort, visit www.OSMission.org
Focus15 is a year-round effort linked to the Focus2020 effort to mobilize American Christians to welcome international students. The effort links friendship churches, pastors and campus ministries with Friendship Host Families and international students. The goal is to share the love of Christ and the Gospel of the Kingdom with students who are interested.
Campus ministries from every denomination as well as Bridges International/Cru, FOCUS, Intervarsity ISM, International Students, Inc., Overseas Students Mission and hundreds of other local groups are involved in the Focus2020 efforts. As part of the effort, Focus15 is organizing Operation Esther Prayer Circles in every campus community and Student Led Bible Studies. The effort is expected to cost about $5 million dollars and involve 10,000 local churches and campus ministries.
OSM is the oldest supporter of international student ministries in the USA and helps provide logistical support services to students returning on missions to their homelands.
Photo captions: 1) Students praying on campus. 2) International students with the flags of their nations. 3) New international students. 4) Bill Bray.
About the writer: Bill Bray, 68, is a retired foreign correspondent and frequent contributor to ASSIST News Service. Bray is the author or editor of 11 books on missions including the Power of a Yielded Life series. He specializes in covering international student ministries and indigenous foreign missions. He has traveled to over 65 countries as a missionary journalist to report on missions and development ministries, returning to some countries as many as 30 times over the years. He can be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com.
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